|The Delta Queen at the start of
the 2004 Great Steamboat Race.
This week has been especially busy as I work on the publishing details of Above and Beyond, and prepare for a “Deep South Magical History Tour,” that will take me to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Actually, my first stop will be Chattanooga, Tenn., where I’ll be staying on the Delta Queen, an American sternwheel steamboat that is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
According to the Delta Queen website, this grand lady has logged over two million miles, and carried over half a million passengers during its many years of service. She is also the only boat to be inducted into the National Marine Hall of Fame while still in service. She has entertained three Presidents, many foreign dignitaries and a multitude of celebrities.
The Delta Queen and her identical twin the Delta King – called the million dollar boats – were fabricated from 1924 to 1927. At the time, they were the most lavishly appointed and expensive sternwheel passenger boats ever commissioned.
|Inside the Delta Queen.|
During World War II, the two boats were requisitioned by the United States Navy for duty in the San Francisco Bay. Their commercial service in California ended in 1940 when a new highway linking Sacramento with San Francisco made them obsolete. After being laid up, they were purchased by a steamship line for service out of New Orleans.
In 1966, the Safety of Life at Sea Law nearly ended the Delta Queen´s career. Because of her wooden structure the legislation ended her passenger cruise profession and she was no longer allowed to carry overnight passengers. Luckily, she is still in service as a hotel.
This should be an interesting stay! There are rumors about the ghost of Mary Green, a woman who served as Captain on Delta Queen in the 1940s. Guests and employees have reported sounds and activity on board which they attribute to her spirit, particularly around her former quarters. I’m not sure what room I’m in, but I’ll let you know if I see anything!
My next stop will Biloxi, Mississippi, to visit my niece and great nephew. Then it will be on to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi. I will be visiting many historic sites including some grand old plantations, which I can’t wait to share with you!